When the Shoe Is on the Other Foot: Deposition Time Limits

It was just about two years ago when the Los Angeles Times ran an article criticizing the asbestos defense bar for needlessly extending depositions of plaintiffs dying of mesothelioma.  Specific reference was made to the experience of John Johnson, whose counsel of record were Roger Worthington and Simona Farrise.  Now the office of Ms. Farrise finds itself in the uncomfortable position of attempting to persuade Judge Emilie H. Elias in Los Angeles that she must order another dying witness to appear for deposition to be questioned by attorneys from the Farrise firm.

In the case of Vinko Caric v. American Standard, et al. (LASC No. BC 527187), the Farrise firm represents Mr. Caric.  The firm’s attorneys want to pose questions to former co-worker Albert Jelenic.  But things get interesting when you learn that Mr. Jelenic is ill himself.  According to his attorney, none other than Raphael Metzger, he has leukemia and is dying.  The Metzger firm is not keen on having Mr. Jelenic deposed, causing the Farrise firm to go to Judge Elias seeking an order compelling Jelenic to appear for deposition questioning.

Defense counsel and Judge Elias had the unique opportunity to listen to counsel from Mr. Metzger’s office and counsel from Ms. Farrise’s office debate whether the dying witness can be compelled to appear for deposition questioning and, if so, under what limitations.  The issue has not yet been resolved, with the Metzger office ordered to update the court and parties periodically regarding the condition of Mr. Jelenic.  This may lead to additional briefing. We will follow the issue to see what positions the two dueling plaintiff firms argue.

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